True Christian Religion #762

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762. The rise on this earth of four churches since the creation of the world is in accordance with Divine order. This demands that there should be a beginning and an end to it, before a new beginning can arise. This is why every day begins with the morning, advances, and ends in night, after which a new day begins. Likewise every year begins with spring, advances through summer to autumn, and ends in winter; and after this the year begins again. It is to produce this result that the sun rises in the east, and then travels through the south to the west, and ends in the north, from which it rises again. It is much the same with churches. The first of these, the Most Ancient Church, was like morning, spring and the east. The second, the Ancient Church was like the day, summer and the south. The third was like evening, autumn and the west, the fourth like night, winter and the north.

[2] These ordered progressions gave the wise men of antiquity the idea of the four ages of the world. They called the first golden, the second silver, the third copper and the fourth iron. These metals were also used to represent the churches themselves in Nebuchadnezzar's statue. Moreover, in the Lord's sight the church looks like one person; and this person on the grand scale will pass through the same stages in his life as one on the small scale, progressing, that is, from childhood to adolescence, from that to young adulthood, and finally to old age; and then after death he will rise again. The Lord says:

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it stays as it is; but if it dies, it bears much fruit, John 12:24,

  
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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.